Tattoos’ Social Impact

Elisa Clerici

Nowadays an estimated 21-29% of Americans have at least one tattoo. But what do people really think about them?

Tattoos have existed since long before the birth of Jesus Christ. The earliest evidence of tattoos was found on an Iceman, Ötzi, found in the Otzal Alps between Austria and Italy in 1991, dated 3300 B.C. At those times tattoos were symbols of protection, fertility and connection with the Divine; they were used as a tribute to a deity, a talisman or to provide communal identity.

According to those who love tattoos, they are a form of self-expression through which they can express their individuality and control the image they present to the world.

They can be a type of cultural expression, used as a status symbol or act as a picture journal of tribe members’ travels. Members of a country’s armed forces look at them as a way to display pride in their job.

Tattoos can also be part of a person’s faith. Sometimes tattoos have a religious significance, such as symbols or quotes from sacred texts that aid meditation, protection or luck. In other cases, they are just a cosmetic enhancement, like hairstyles or makeup.

 

If tattoos have been around for over 5,000 years, why do people still have prejudices, especially towards tattooed women?

A 1996 survey by Florida State University claims people think that “getting a tattoo marks you as someone different from society, different from everybody else.” People with tattoos suffer because these negative perceptions and stigma depict them as socially undesirable. However, Vermont is definitely a bright spot concerning this matter. 

According to Harwood teacher and tattoo-lover Tedin Lange “our state is well-known all over the country for promoting self-expression, freedom and tolerance against all forms of discriminations.”

Ms. Lange has 13 tattoos. Some are dedicated to her children and family, and others to her religion and values.

A proud supporter of tattoos, she got her first tattoo when she turned 18.

 

“I like the idea of choosing the way I look and being able to change the way I was born,” she said, “but I’m also aware that in our society prejudices and stereotypes still exist on tattooed people who are seen as less intelligent, ‘trashy’ and a lower class.”

“Physical appearances and your own image are still the most important things in the work world but, fortunately, less than in the past years thanks to the younger generation who really appreciates them,” Ms. Lange added.

A brief survey conducted on Snapchat has confirmed Ms. Lange’s opinion about the impact of tattoos on the younger population.

20 Harwood high schoolers of different grades and genders consider tattoos as really cool, meaningful, a way to express someone’s personality, sick, art and a body’s embellishment. In addition, 80% of them want to get one or more tattoos since they believe that “they are symbols of something important, a reminder of something meaningful, a fashion accessory and also a way to express values and belief.”

Ella Glow, a Harwood Senior, has 2 tattoos which she made by herself at home. She used the “Stick-and-Poke method” to tattoo a little mushroom and a lightning bolt on her hand. 

This type of tattooing, also known as “Hand-poked tattoos,” are made by dipping a sterilized needle in ink and manually poking the skin with it.

However, while a high percentage of Harwood teenagers like Ella Glow appreciate tattoos, what are parents’ thoughts about them? 

“They don’t really support my choice to get tattoos because in their opinion I’ll regret it when I get older,” Ella said, “but, anyway, they’ve gotten used to them.”

In this case, the parents’ viewpoint didn’t really make a difference. In other cases, it can strongly affect their children’s opinion both positively or negatively.

Now, reflecting on yourself, how do your parents feel about tattoos?